Halliday was 30 years old, and a captain in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, during the Boxer Rebellion in China when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
On 24 June 1900 at Peking, China, an attack was made on the British Legation by the Boxers who set fire to the stables and occupied some of the other buildings. It being imperative to drive the enemy out, a hole was knocked in the Legation wall and 20 men of the RMLI went in.
Captain Halliday, leading a party of twenty Royal Marines, was involved in desperate fighting and was severely wounded but despite his injuries, he killed four of the enemy. Finally, unable to carry on any further, he ordered his men to go on without him, after which he returned to the legation alone, telling his men 'carry on and not mind him', so as not to diminish the number of men engaged in the sortie. He walked 100 yards unaided to the hospital although his shoulder was half blown out and his left lung punctured.
His citation reads:
Captain (now Brevet Major) Lewis Stratford Tollemache Halliday, Royal Marine Light Infantry On the 24th June, 1900, the enemy, consisting of Boxers and Imperial troops, made a fierce attack on the west wall of the British Legation, setting fire to the West Gate of the south stable quarters, and taking cover in the buildings which adjoined the wall. The fire, which spread to part of the stables, and through which and the smoke a galling fire was kept up by the Imperial troops, was with difficulty extinguished, and as the presence of the enemy in the adjoining buildings was a grave danger to the Legation, a sortie was organised to drive them out.
A hole was made in the Legation Wall, and Captain Halliday, in command of twenty Marines, led the way into the buildings and almost immediately engaged a party of the enemy. Before he could use his revolver, however, he was shot through the left shoulder, at point blank range, the bullet fracturing the shoulder and carrying away part of the lung.
Notwithstanding the extremely severe nature of his wound, Captain Halliday killed three of his assailants, and telling his men to "carry on and not mind him," walked back unaided to the hospital, refusing escort and aid so as not to diminish the number of men engaged in the sortie.
— London Gazette, 1 January 1901.
He was promoted to brevet major for his part in the legation's defence, and returned to the United Kingdom to receive the VC from King Edward VII during an investiture at Marlborough House on 25 July 1901.
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